Refiner's Fire

  • Sept. 6, 2018
  • #9484

Though God allows suffering to test and purify our faith, He never leaves us alone in our trials.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and little words can make a big difference.

Now, I'm sure you know the old story of the refiner who sits by a cauldron, stokes the flames and watches the dross burn off the top of the gold until he can see his reflection? Well, that story idea comes from Malachi Chapter 3 verse 3, and it’s an illustration of how the Lord refines us in the fire. He’ll turn up the heat on our trials until all the impurities, all the sins, and all the selfishness come bubbling up to the surface of our soul. And then, like a refiner of silver or gold, God skims off the dross until he can see the reflection of his face in our lives.

Well, one day as I read that little verse in Malachi, a word caught my attention. It says, “He will sit as a refiner.” Now, knowing full well that every word is scrutinized and chosen by the Holy Spirit; knowing there is a purpose for all these words, I sat for a long while and wondered why God chose that word “sit.” He doesn’t stand by the cauldron, the Refiner sits. And suddenly, that little word became such an encouragement! Because I took it to mean that God is not going to get up and walk away from whatever trial you are going through. He’s not going to get distracted or wander off into something else while my test or your test is heating up. God is there for the long haul; He is going to sit there, carefully tending to the circumstances around you and me.

And oh, this comforting thought encouraged me so much in my wheelchair because some days it is so unbelievably hard. I’m not a plaster-of-Paris saint with this disability, unfeeling or emotionally immune to the hardship. Honestly, sometimes the discomfort takes my breath away. But no pain can match the overwhelming comfort in knowing that God sits over my trial. He is sitting with me in it, and He’s not going anywhere. He will let that discomfort go on for only so long. And in that trial, you will often find me praying, ‘Okay, Lord, you’ve got my attention; I'm listening here, I'm willing to learn or change or confess or grow…whatever you have in mind.’

From God's point of view, trials have an end. And from my point of view, sufferings have a lesson. And my goal is to learn that lesson, confess whatever sin, refocus my faith, or quit whining, bemoaning my fate, or wandering off the path—whatever God’s purpose might be. I want to do it; I want to agree with my Refiner, the Perfecter, and Purifier of my faith. I want to cooperate with the Spirit and do everything I can from my end so that God can see the reflection of his Son Jesus in my life.

First Peter Chapter 1 verse 7 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold, though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” Friend, between Malachi Chapter 3 and First Peter Chapter 1, you’ve got all the good news you need to face your trials and hardships today because there’s an end; there’s a purpose, and there’s a goal.

Take great comfort today that the Lord doesn’t wander away while you’re in pain. He is not on vacation; he will sit alongside you, watching over you, tending to your faith until it is refined to the degree He desires. And oh, what praise it will mean on the day that Jesus is revealed. That’s a promise from the Lord, our Refiner. And it’s a promise that no matter how hard things are, you can make it.

© Joni and Friends



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